Roan Mountain

12 November 2022

Roan High Knob W4T/SU-005

Grassy Ridge Bald W4C/EM-001

K-2972 Roan Mountain State Park

K-4525 Cherokee National Forest

K-4510 Pisgah National Forest

K-6936 Pisgah State Game Land

K-4556 Appalachian Trail National Scenic Trail

So Many References

First things first, you can activate a lot of references in a very small space. I did not do that. The Roan Mountain area contains several peaks and parks. Some overlap and some don’t. The ridge itself splits Tennessee and North Carolina. If you hike to Roan High Knob you’ll probably start at Carvers Gap and follow the Appalachian Trail up to the peak. The trail switches back between TN and NC several times.

The very peak of Roan High Knob is in TN but a very short walk gets you into NC. I activated from the peak itself while sitting wedged between a rock and a tree so the references I claimed were limited.

If you activate from the TN side you are standing in the Cherokee National Forest and should be within the 100′ POTA range of the Appalachian Trail. This is what I did, but with a little planning you could do a lot more.

If you stand on the NC side just a few feet away you are in the Pisgah National Forest and Game Land. I’m not sure if you would still be withing the 100′ range of the AT.

Since the Cherokee and Pisgah forests don’t overlap, I don’t think you can activate everything all at the same time. If you have the time and the right weather you could quite easily hike from Roan High Knob to Grassy Ridge Bald in a single day. That would get you every reference listed above for SOTA, POTA, and probably some WWFF across both TN and NC… Except for Roan Mountain K-2972 because the state park doesn’t actually include the mountain itself…

Roan Mountain State Park

I didn’t travel to TN just for this park. We were unfortunately traveling through because a family member passed away in NC. Not wanting to drive straight through we decided to stay a bit over half way. Roan Mountain State Park has some great cabins that you can rent for a very reasonable price. They are a 2 night minimum stay though so my amazing wife graciously agreed to hike a mountain in the fall with me and activate a summit. Love that lady 🙂 !!!

Roan Mountain the town is just North of the park cabins in 143 and the mountain is just South. The town has several good restaurants including the delicious Highlander BBQ and Americano Steak House. Both are highly recommended if you’re in the area!

Hiking the Appalachian Trail

Our hike to the High Knob summit took us along the AT from Carvers Gap. It was late enough in the year that the road further up was already closed. On our drive to TN we got photos from our cat sitter showing our house covered in 5-6″ of snow. That meant something similar wasn’t far behind us. The weather was chilly at the bottom but the hike up warmed us up no problem! Layers Layers Layers! It did mist and rain through our hike up, but fortunately at the top it had mostly stopped.

Best hiking companion!

Towards the top the AT splits to a shelter that used to be for the fire tower watch. The fire tower is gone but the shelter is still there and pretty cool.

The cabin has a nice graffiti board to prevent people from carving and drawing all over the cabin.

Had to try out the new SOTA patch. It glows in the dark!

We added our little bit and continued onto the summit. There is a bit of trail after the cabin and the summit is easy to find.


I decided to make it a simple setup so I went with the Elecraft KX2 with the AX1 antenna. I tried stringing the counterpoise across the rocks and later moved it a bit off the ground and attached it to a tree.

I’m not sure if it was conditions or the setup but it was challenging knocking out 10 contacts this time. It still only took about half an hour but it felt like it took forever with a lot of CQ calling. Maybe it was the misting or because my legs fell asleep wedged between the rock and tree.

I also had some issues with the key wanting to send a string of dahs randomly. I generally keep my contacts close and that combined with the misting weather was probably just enough to send the Begali Adventure Mono dah’ing away. It’s easy enough to just bring the contact out a bit with your finger nail so I did that and it fixed the issue.

It was getting dark and cold so I was about to give up on the POTA activation and just enjoy a SOTA activation. I had miscounted after getting called twice by someone, realized it, then almost called it a day. Then all of a sudden I got a call from WA2QLK saving the day. Thank you Dennis for getting me off the mountain at a reasonable time!

I’m not sure why this shows KP3W outside of LA. He normally shows up fine in PR.

QRT and Back Down

It was a fun hike but with the weather and the dark we were happy to get back down off the mountain.

72 – KK9U

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